|French Open 2014|
|Milos Raonic  (CAN)||vs||Gilles Simon  (FRA)|
ScheduleFriday, 30 May 2014 at 16:00 GMT / 17:00 UK / 21:30 IST
VenueCourt Philippe Chatrier
It's an intriguing match-up. The Canadian powerhouse Milos Raonic versus the guile and tactical play of French number 29 seed – Gilles Simon. On the slower clay surface, the known advantages that a player has can come undone, as we've seen already this week.
Gilles Simon has been ranked as high as #6, and has hovered within the 10-30 ranking range for a few years now. Gilles has been in fifteen finals and won eleven of them, so he knows what it takes to win matches and that's a great conversion rate by anyone's' standards. However, the current year wouldn't rank as one of his best though, but on his day, he has the game that can nullify opponents, even big serving guys such as Isner, Anderson, Berdych and of course Raonic.
Raonic on the other hand is all about combining his powerful service with an ever improving all-round game. He's not as one-dimensional as everyone had previously made him out to be. Milos has been in ten finals and won half of them. All of them have been on hard courts (four indoor, one outdoor) while his win/loss record on clay stands at 57%. Simon's is 59%.
As mentioned, Simon's 2014 year to date has been marked by mostly second or third round exits. He did make the quarter finals at Acapulco and Bucharest ( a location he's won at twice before), plus the semi finals just recently in Nice. In 2013, Gilles made the fourth round at Roland Garros, losing to Roger Federer in five sets.
In contrast, Raonic has played fewer tournaments, and reached the quarter finals in four of them. He also got to the semi finals in Rome, losing a tight three setter to Novak Djokovic 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 3-6. At last years event, Raonic bowed out in the third round to South African Kevin Anderson in three sets, a battle of the big servers!
This afternoon's game won't be a long-winded affair, that much I'm sure. Raonic is in reasonable to good form, and Simon isn't. However, with a parochial French crowd behind him, and a clay court that suits nearly every Frenchman, Simon has every chance to win it, but he'd have to be a hell of a lot better than what his statistics showed in his opening two matches.
Raonic can pick up easy points through aces. He slammed down 20 of them against rising Czech player Jiri Vesely, while Simon only collected one in his second round match over Alejandro Gonzalez. And that's where the big difference will lie. Accuracy on first serve points and as few unforced errors as is possible.
Raonic and Simon have only met once previously. 2011, at the Estoril tournament in Portugal. Raonic got home that day 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, serving 7 aces and winning 70% of his first serve points. He'll need to operate at that level or higher to navigate past the dangerous Simon.
Despite the Gallic passion for their own players (and admittedly there are a heap of French players on the circuit), I can see this going the way of Raonic, in three sets.